London: Primary school teachers in the UK could be sacked for refusing to promote gay marriage once same-sex unions become law, a British minister has suggested.
Liz Truss, an education minister, refused to rule out the possibility that teachers, even in faith schools, could face disciplinary action for objecting on grounds of conscience.
Truss said simply that it was impossible to know what the impact of the legislation would be at this stage.
According to the Telegraph, her admission came in a letter to a fellow Conservative MP, David Burrowes, last month.
Burrowes, a practising Christian, originally wrote to Maria Miller, the equalities minister, raising concerns about the impact on schools of the Coalition’s plans to change the marriage laws.
It followed the publication of a legal opinion by Aidan O’Neill QC, a barrister in the same London chambers as Cherie Blair, commissioned by the Coalition for Marriage, which campaigns against same-sex unions.
O’Neill, an expert on human rights, was asked to advise on the impact redefining marriage to include same-sex couples could have on schools, churches, hospitals, foster carers and public buildings.
According to the paper, among his conclusions was that schools could be within their statutory rights to dismiss staff who wilfully fail to use stories or textbooks promoting same-sex weddings.
Truss, however, said it was impossible to know how the balance might change further if same-sex marriage becomes law and what the implications might be.
“As you are aware, legislation on equal civil marriage has yet to be announced by the Home Office, following a consultation exercise earlier this year,” she wrote.
“I am, therefore, unable to advise on the specifics of any legislation and its future impacts at this time,” she added.